St. Johns Cultural Council, which promotes arts, culture and heritage in St. Johns County, has announced the recipients of its inaugural “Arts for All” grants. The new program, made possible with funding secured by the Cultural Council through the National Endowment for the Arts, provides support for local artists and arts organizations and ensures greater access to high quality arts programming for residents of St. Johns County.
The January 2024 grantees include:
- Apex Theatre Studio — The grant provides funds for the Penguin Project “Shrek Jr.,” a musical theater production which casts young artists with developmental disabilities working side-by-side with children without disabilities.
- Amber Hall, Teaching Artist — The Rhythm United program will use a percussion orchestra to provide music education to fourth and fifth graders at the seven Title 1 schools in St. Johns County.
- First Coast Opera — For the performance of “Pirates of Penzance,” First Coast Opera will create accessible materials and options for the visually impaired, market to and create production materials for Hispanic communities and provide free show tickets and pre-show talks to students of Title 1 schools.
- Debra Mixon Holliday, Visual Artist — Grant funds will support the creation and exhibition of “Once Around the Sun,” an exhibition of 12 works of art representing the calendar months and depicting local flora and fauna. Exhibitions are planned at the local Butterfield Garage Gallery and the St. Johns County Main Library, and printmaking demonstrations and classes will be presented at The Waterworks.
- Hope4Veterans — Funding will be dedicated to the organization’s Narratives of Women in the Military program. Hope4Veterans will present “She Served,” a photography exhibition by Martina Schmidt to showcase women veterans, and produce “Single Black Female in the Navy,” an original play by Kim Mullins, a Navy veteran and theater teacher, about her experiences as a woman in the Navy.
- Marcellus “Cellus” Brown III, Musician — The Elevating Afrobeat Culture in St. Augustine project will produce and launch a culturally resonant album that addresses insightful themes of cultural heritage, social justice and a personal evolution to amplify Afrobeat culture within St. Augustine and neighboring areas. Performances of songs from the album are planned in several locations in St. Johns County.
- Jam-ology — The grant-funded project will provide an in-school program at Title 1 schools, which encourages students to work together to collectively create and compose a song. Activities will promote collaboration, critical thinking and self-worth, benefiting students academically, socially and emotionally.
“Most of the funding we provide to organizations is to support arts, culture and heritage activities aimed primarily at tourists,” said Brenda Swann, St. Johns Cultural Council’s associate director. “We sought additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts so that we could fund local artists and emerging arts organizations that create high quality arts programs for St. Johns County residents. The funded Arts for All grant projects make arts and culture more accessible to underserved populations, including students at Title 1 schools and those with developmental disabilities, while sharing the art, stories, and rich cultures of our resident population.”
Another grant application cycle will open in early summer 2024. For more information on Arts for All Grants, go to stjohnsculture.com/arts-for-all-grants. To learn more about how to support the arts in St. Johns County and to subscribe to the St. Johns Cultural Council newsletter, go to stjohnsculture.com.